There was a time (ten short years ago) when Burning Man had no Playa Restoration crew. Volunteers from the Department of Public Works would stay long after the event for “cleanup,” which ended when the playa was clean. The Burning Man community had always taken great care and individual responsibility in Leaving No Trace, and the cleanup crew was always able to ensure that the BLM would approve of Black Rock City’s efforts and allow our city of dust to keep flourishing. But slowly, as our population grew, it became more and more difficult to restore the playa to a perfectly moop-free state.
Playa Restoration was founded by D.A. in 2005. His goal: To change attitudes about what it really means to “clean up” Black Rock City. In 2006, we created Burning Man’s first Moop Map. The community could finally see what it meant to Leave No Trace, and how it was possible to improve. The effect of the map was dramatic: an immediate and lasting improvement in Burning Man’s impact trace.
Over the years, the Moop Map has been an excellent way for the Resto team to report back on the effectiveness of Black Rock City’s efforts to Leave No Trace. And as you can see, even as the city has grown, Burning Man’s overall moopiness has actually improved. Make no mistake: That is due to the dedication and hard work of the people of Black Rock City.
The Resto crew exists to support every Burner in our efforts to Leave No Trace. Every year, we share our tips and tricks on this blog, to empower every Black Rock citizen with the knowledge to leave their camp clean and moop-free.
But here’s a secret: You don’t actually need any special knowledge to Leave No Trace on the playa. All you need to do … is Leave No Trace. And so, this year we’re giving you the three easy, basic steps that, if followed carefully, almost guarantee a big, sexy green on next year’s Moop Map.
1. Make an LNT plan
Before your camp hits the playa, make sure you know how you’ll manage moop as a group. How will you keep it from hitting the ground? How will you pack it out? And who’s staying to join your moop line? (hint: everyone)
2. Do a line sweep (with the right people and tools)
Moop line sweeps are simple: Everyone lines up at one end of your camp, a few feet apart, and walks in a straight line through the camp, picking up everything you see. That means everything that isn’t part of the Black Rock Desert: glitter, string, wood chips, greywater spots.
To help with that, you’ll want a few tools: Vise grips to pull rebar and tent stakes; a shovel and a bucket to scoop up stains; a broom and/or rake to expose small pieces.
The ideal line sweep is 30 people strong. That means everyone in your camp needs to participate.
3. Write down what you found
As you sweep through your camp, document your findings. It’s incredibly educational to see what types of moop hit the ground, and where–and it’ll show you how you can improve for next year. Wood chips at your build site? Use a tarp next year. Greywater spots near your evap pond? Redesign it. Food bits near the kitchen? Put down flooring.
It’s really that simple. How do we Leave No Trace out here in the Black Rock Desert? We just look around us, and pick up what we see, until it’s all gone.
Moop Map, Day 2 results
On Day 2, the Playa Restoration moop line finished its sweep of the back blocks of the city. Next up: the crew makes a hard right turn, sweeping down 10:00 and onto the Esplanade!
We’re not posting details of what was found in each spot. If you are a theme camp, your Placement representative may have more detailed information for you in a few months (when the entire Moop Map is finalized). Please be patient: we have much more work to do before we can pass detailed information along.
Stay tuned for more, as the moop line marches through the streets of BRC. We’ll keep posting the results just as quickly as we can compile them.